Professor Simon Penny, Claire Trevor School of the Arts, University of California, Irvine, is an interactive media artist who has a long history of building systems that attend to embodied experience and gesture. Through artistic and scholarly work, he explores dimensions of the fundamental problems encountered when machines for abstract mathematico-logical procedures are interfaced with cultural practices (such as aesthetic creation and reception) whose first commitment is to engineer persuasive perceptual immediacy and affect. These cultural practices mobilize sensibilities and non-propositional cognitive modalities alien to the technology and possibly incompatible with its structuring precepts: the kind of intelligence required by cultural practices involving handwork, bodywork and material engagement (crafts, “popular,” and “higher” art forms) is embodied, kinesthetic, and multi-modal.
In his digital art practice, Simon has attempted to find a way to integrate the intelligence modalities required for such ‘bodywork’ into alphanumeric logico-symbolic forms of expression. He has developed a critique of notions of intelligence reified in computer technologies, rooted in post-cognitivist conceptions of cognition, self and agency. His interactive digital art installations, such as Fugitive, Traces and Petit Mal, possess interfaces sensitive to sensorimotor modalities of aesthetic response. His current book project focuses on articulating a new aesthetic theory for interactive media, digital cultural practices, and the arts in general, deploying contemporary embodied and post-cognitivist perspectives to provide a language for the discussion of cultural practices which is aware of and attends to situated, embodied and enactive intelligences.